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Stage 12: Global-local.

15/10/2020

How do they work out the gaps between two riders on the road? I guess you need their exact position (a GPS will tell you that), the distance between them along the race route (not as the crow flies) and their exact speed (a GPS will tell you that too). Subtract the slower speed from the faster one, then calculate how long it takes you to cover that distance at that speed. Repeat lots of times a second, and I guess that’s how it’s done – at least, when one is converging on the other. When the rider in front is pulling away from the one behind, I can’t immediately imagine how they do it, so, since I need to publish this tonight, let’s leave it at that.

Either way, Jhonatan Narváez did something clever with those times today. With 23 km to go, he dropped Padun and opened a 25″ lead. As the road flattened out for the final 15 km, he knew Padun could see him, and allowed the Ukrainian to come back. With 11.5 km to go, the gap was down to 10 seconds Padun could almost feel his body warmth. And then, Narváez accelerated. With 5 km to go, his lead was back up to 32″. His strength sapping as his hope dissolved, Padun limped home 1 minute 8 seconds behind the Ecuadorian.

All this, in the stage local to Cesenatico, the start and finish town, Marco Pantani’s hometown, and on the roads of the celebrated Nove Colli GranFondo, run by Pantani’s old club, and ridden, at least once, by Pantani. The stage was so hard, the peloton finished in at least seven groups. Do amateurs really do this?

But it was local to somewhere else, too. Ecuador is professional cycling’s newest successful nation. It was only in August 2016 that Richard Carapaz became the first ever Ecuadorean on a WorldTour team. At the 2018 Giro he won Ecuador’s first grand tour stage. In 2019, he took two more stage wins, and his country’s first grand tour win.

Carapaz, Narváez and the cousins Jefferson Alveiro Cepeda and Jefferson Alexander Cepeda, all went to the same school in El Playón de San Francisco, a small municipality close to the Colombian border, 3000 m above sea level. Carapaz, Narváez, the Cepeda cousins and Jonathan Caicedo were all introduced to the sport by Juan Carlos Rosero García. Ecuador’s most successful cyclist until Carapaz. The winner of three Vueltas a Ecuador, one of them leading from start to finish, the only foreign winner, in 1992, his annus mirabilis, of the hard-fought Vuelta a Boyacá in Colombia, and fifth in the Vuelta a Colombia, even displacing Lucho Herrera from the race lead for a day. And, briefly, a Pepsi Cola-Alba-Fanini rider in Italy, where he was listed as Colombian.

 

Late in 2007, the owner of a national road-construction firm called Panavial, supported by the Prefecture of Carchi, encouraged Juan Carlos Rosero to pass on his experience to a new generation of riders. At El Playón de San Francisco, Rosero’s invited the pupils to join his newly constituted cycling club. Thirteen years later, today’s stage of this global sporting event was local to a tiny village in northern Ecuador too.

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